Nothing wrong with tourism

By Ernest Sena, economist | In economic affairs, we usually distinguish between activities that are productive, no-productive, extractive, transforming, distributive and a long list more of them. But in Spain, there even are other two categories that nobody seems able to bring up to the debate in a transparent way: noble and innoble.

For instance, mining happens to be a noble activity. A social majority accepts the high cost to the public finances of propping mining up at the expense of heavy burdens for the Spanish taxpayer in a time in which logic says it should be cut down, too. The general attitude, though, comes across as the result of a collective economic irrationality and a disproportionate consideration towards foolish reactions.

Something similar, if on the opposite corner, could be said about agriculture. Today’s agriculture in Spain is mostly technologically advanced and competitive. Yet, it is still thought of as a dead weight from the past and a barrier for the country to achieve a superior degree of industrialisation.

The reference dictionary reads that an economic activity implies production and distribution of goods, while services are left aside. This is a misunderstanding with which we have put up for too long, now.

Tourism represents some 13 percent of the GDP of a region like Valencia, for example, with 250,000 employees or 14 percent of the total workforce, a business volume of €10 billions and at least 12 percent of the tax income of the autonomous government. These figures are all over the State average, by the way.

Tourism, unfortunately, has become a synonym of a predatory industry that has a destructive footprint on the natural landscape, and only thrives amid corruption, financial abuse or financial waste. This is an industry with a few but vast, ugly stains.

The public opinion, probably in Spain and outside Spain, should overcome the current prejudices, nevertheless. Tourism is a strategic industry and we must give it priority.

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